Florida plants and climate change

Nico Andrade, Anand Chundi, Sarah McMorrow, and Natalie Patten

Authors:  Nico Andrade, Anand Chundi, Sarah McMorrow, Natalie Patten, Douglas E. Soltis, Pamela S. Soltis, Michelle L. Gaynor

Faculty Mentor: Michelle L. Gaynor 

College:  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Climate change greatly influences biodiversity and plants’ ability to survive; however, the potential effect of climate change on the distribution of specific plant species is often unknown. We aimed to understand how climate change will affect threatened and endangered species which occupy Archbold Biological Station (Lake Placid, Florida). We are generating ecological niche models to characterize the current and future distributions of these species using environmental and climatic variables. We will then examine the predicted distributions for these endangered and threatened plant species for 20 and 50 years from now. We expect our models will show these plants’ will decrease in range and niche breadth. Additionally, we will test whether or not current protected areas will be sufficient for each of these species in the face of climate change. Overall, our project will provide valuable insight to inform conservation efforts in Florida.

Poster Pitch

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24 Responses
  1. Annelise Vieira

    Hi everyone! Your projects seems really well done – it’s great to hear about a bioinformatic approach to conservation. Great work!

  2. Wonderful work everyone! Kudos for documenting such interesting research in such a striking poster! I am curious as to how this research is applied. I am assuming there are devoted efforts to help the biodiversity most affected by climate change, but what does that look like? Does it look different for each species affected? Thanks!

    1. Sarah McMorrow

      Thanks Marissa! With the conservation efforts, it is important for conservationists and management to be aware of the loss of biodiversity. By identifying those species most affected, we can better conform efforts towards them or towards their hotspots. We can do this by increasing protective areas to be inclusive of their populations now and what we project they will be.

  3. Stephanie Miller

    Hey, great poster & presentation!! I was wondering what the year range was on the data you had obtained to make your ecological niche models? Also, was there any way you accounted for other external factors that could have affected the distribution of the endangered species you were studying? Really engaging and such an important topic!

    1. Sarah McMorrow

      Thanks Stephanie, we appreciate it! Our data went all the way back even to early 20th century, just depending on when it was collected. In terms of external factors, we didn’t account for any while collecting data, but while analyzing data there’s many ways we could approach. For example, we can use suitability maps built from climatic layers of different years to determine how plants were affected by external factors not covered by the layers.

  4. Dr. Donnelly

    The poster looks great – I liked the use of graphics, and especially the methods diagram. Very clear and easy to follow. Also the significance at the end. of the video Nice work.

  5. Julia Garcia

    One of your objectives was to determine if protective areas in Florida provide adequate habitat for the species. What did you conclude? Do we, as a state, provide enough habitat?

    1. Natalie Patten

      We have not reached any conclusions yet, as we are still in the preliminary stages of our research. In the future, we will use our cleaned data (preliminary results) to form ecological niche models, which will help determine if protective areas in Florida provide adequate habitat for the species.

    2. Anand Chundi

      Unfortunately, we have yet to finalise our results, so we haven’t yet determined the answer to that question. We certainly expect the distributions to be significantly affected by climate change and hope that our results reflect the same.

  6. Pam Soltis

    Hi everyone,
    Awesome job!!! This turned out really well!
    Here are some questions for all of you to mull over; you can split them up, if you’d like.
    Do you think that different species will respond differently to climate change?
    What sort of differences do you expect to see among species?
    Why do you think that species might respond differently?
    Do you have ideas yet about possible conservation strategies for different species?

    1. Nico Andrade

      Hi Pam! Different plants can definitely be affected differently! Some species are found in different substrates, and some are differently adapted to fire. We can make predictions based on their current habitats and niches. There are a bunch of reasons why different species could respond differently to climate change, such as differed seed dispersal mechanisms and self compatibility/incompatibility. Different species might thrive with different abiotic factors, such as different temperatures and precipitations, which can be modeled by climatic layers! Thank you for your questions!

    2. Sarah McMorrow

      Hi Pam! In terms of possible conservation strategies for different species, we’ll be able to determine this better when we can analyze the results; however, it will be important to contact conservationists and policy makers to make them aware of their distributions and adjust the protective areas accordingly.

  7. Maria Cortez

    Hi everyone! Great job!

    My question to you, Nico, Anand, Sarah and Natalie is:

    Do you have any ideas on how to communicate your findings to policy conservation policy makers?

    1. Natalie Patten

      We could reach out to any potential connections and e-mail our representatives, saying that this is something that we are researching that is important and that will impact our ecosystem in the future. I would also mention that this impacts tourism due to the aesthetic nature of Florida’s ecosystem.

  8. Douglas Soltis

    good question Maria. we were just discussing how important it is taking those steps–working with those in environmental law, talking to local and state elected officials, etc.